A SECOND Eto Nabuli hat-trick for 2013 was the difference in Windsor overcoming a determined Bulldogs side 30-14 at Windsor Sporting Complex on Friday night.
The result confirmed that Windsor cannot finish worse than sixth in the NSW Cup with one round remaining as they continue to pressure the Newtown Jets for the last top-four spot.
The Wolves dominated the opening minutes but to their credit the Bulldogs defended their line very well and were rewarded when Brett Lane scored the opening try in the 13th minute, after a quick spread left inside the Wolves 20m zone allowed the winger to score in the corner.
A strong tackle by Wes Naiqama let Windsor attack from halfway, and when Blake Austin took on the line before finding Anthony Cherrington on the left with a fantastic short ball to score from close range, Windsor hit the lead 6-4 midway through the first half.
From the ensuing set, Blake Austin's cross-field kick in the 38th minute was brilliantly regathered by Eto Nabuli, who still had some work to do from 10m out before scoring underneath the posts to give Windsor a 12-4 lead.
A combination of errors in possession and penalties invited the Bulldogs back into the game soon after half-time when back rower Paul Carter sliced through the Windsor right edge from 10m out to score out wide.
The teams traded tries for the next 20 minutes, but Windsor finally got some breathing space in the 70th minute when Cherrington attacked the Bulldogs right edge before providing a round-the-corner offload to Nabuli, who bumped and stepped his way on a 35m run to score his hat-trick and, in doing so, went to the top of the try scorers list with his 24th try of the season.
Naiqama's successful conversion gave the Wolves that 10-point buffer and the game was sealed when Brad Tighe scored out wide. Coach Guy Missio was a relieved coach after the game.
"It's the first time as coach I have beaten the Bulldogs so I'm happy to get that monkey off my back," he said.
"I'm really pleased with the effort shown in defence as it's something we have spoken a lot about recently.
"Tonight we just needed to be more patient in attack.
"At times I thought we tried to push things too quickly."
Windsor 30 (Tries: Nabuli 3, Cherrington, Tighe. Goals: Naiqama 5/5) def Bulldogs 14 (Tries: Lane, Carter, Thompson. Goals: Wilson 1/1, Littlejohn 0/2).